Comcast has created a system for controlling a TV with nothing more than a glance. The system, called Xfinity X1 eye control, is designed for people living with physical disabilities that prevent them using a conventional remote.
Xfinity X1 is a web-based remote that works with existing gaze-tracking hardware and software, sip-and-puff switches (which are controlled by gently blowing into or sipping from a tube or pipe) and other assistive tech.
To use it, Xfinity subscribers can visit the X1 webpage and use their account credentials to pair the web-based remote with their set-top box.
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Once set up, the system makes it easy to change channels, launch the TV guide, set recordings and toggle features like closed captioning. It's even possible to type out commands using eye movements.
“Changing the channel on a TV is something most of us take for granted but until now, it was a near-impossible task for millions of viewers,” says Tom Wlodkowski, vice president of accessibility at Comcast.
"When you make a product more inclusive you create a better experience for everyone and we’re hoping our new X1 feature makes a real difference in the lives of our customers."
Eye tracking technology like this can give people living with conditions like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) a new level of independence. ALS attacks cells in the brain and spinal cord, leading to loss of muscle control. Fifteen people are diagnosed with the condition every day in the US alone.
"Our mission is to help provide the resources so that families diagnosed with ALS can continue living independent, productive, and triumphant lives,” says Steve Gleason, former NFL player, founder of Team Gleason and living with ALS.
“Not long ago, simple tasks like using a remote control were completely unavailable for families with ALS. The development of the X1 eye control is a testament to Comcast’s commitment to all their customers. We believe companies that invest in empowering their customers, become catalysts for more innovation.”